Woodbridge rugby coach set for African adventure

A WOODBRIDGE-based rugby coach is jetting back out to Nigeria to continue his efforts to develop the sport there.

Roger Coombs, 65, is heading to the African country’s capital Lagos where he will restart his coaching commitments with the current champions of the city’s Rugby Union league, Cowrie.

Coombs, who can include on his CV, four years working with Sir Clive Woodward at London Irish, is also attempting to establish a programme for young coaches in the country, which would allow them to develop the skills of children from some of Lagos’ poorest schools.

However, such is the current political unrest in the country that the plans are not easy to implement.

Economically, there are also financial issues.


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“You will go to one of the federal schools to coach and there will be about 40 pupils with just to balls to practise with,” said Coombs.

One or two of the private schools are at a decent standard and the national team is picking up, but apart from that, the standard is not great.

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“There is also not a lot of money and most players are likely to get lifts on the back of bikes as their transport to training.

“There are some talented players out there but they are unable to play abroad as they can’t obtain visas.”

Amongst Coombs’ other roles include stints with Woodbridge Amazons and a period coaching London Nigerian.

“It started a long time ago for me, when I was coaching in London and was asked to go to Nigeria with businessman, Peter Ferguson, with the aim of getting children off the street and playing rugby. Then Gowrie was set up.

“Nigerians are quite adept at rugby.

“There have been a lot of wealthy people living out there and a lot of them choose to send their children to boarding schools in England where rugby is played.”

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